This has been a busy fall so far. The Chaplaincy Program has been enjoying all kinds of influence on campus with record numbers of students attending events. The numbers of students going to church in town and attending church on campus has been up dramatically. We have been holding on for dear life as God has been revealing Himself to students in ways we've never seen before.
I think my favorite times though have been the times when fewer students have come out to events. It is a little less harried and frantic than when 175 students show for Root Beer Floats or 125 come out for Nacho Night and we need to hustle to keep up with demand.
I usually run events at night but last week on Halloween we did an after school Pumpkin Painting event so we wouldn't interfere with the Student Council Haunted House later in the evening. It was a much slower paced affair with students tending to stick around longer. I had lots of pumpkins so kids took their time and some even painted a couple of different ones.
The reason these quieter events are my favorite is because inevitably a smaller group of students will stay later and just hang out. I find out a lot during these times; I find out about places kids live or have lived, about relationships they’re in and all the trials that go along with that, about family members, and a lot of cultural information. I find out who likes what kind of special treat like sunflower seeds or a certain kind of candy or that somebody is out of shampoo. I can usually meet a need pretty easily when I find out about it.
It just can be a time of sharing and discovering new things about students. The larger events serve a purpose of getting kids into contact with the Chaplain, sometimes for the first time, but the smaller group setting opens up a time for dialogue. It doesn't always lead to spiritual discussions but a lot of times it does. I’m grateful for the opportunities that come along during these times.
See the rest of the Pumpkin Painting Pictures: